22 Jun, 2020

Commission’s Code of Conduct to counter online hate speech brings results

The European Commission released the results of its fifth evaluation of the 2016 Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online on 22 June, with overall positive results.

Commenting on the results, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, noted in the Commission’s press statement:

“The Code of conduct remains a success story when it comes to countering illegal hate speech online. It offered urgent improvements while fully respecting fundamental rights. [...] What is illegal offline remains illegal online."

Jourová also praised the valuable partnerships that the Code of Conduct has helped to establish between civil society organisations, national authorities and IT platforms, and highlighted the importance of ensuring that all platforms upheld the same obligations across the entire Single Market.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, welcomed the good results but said: "We should, however, not satisfy ourselves with these improvements and we should continue the good work. I urge the platforms to close the gaps observed in most recent evaluations, in particular on providing feedback to users and transparency."

Reynders noted that the Commission is also looking into binding transparency measures so that platforms can clarify how they are dealing with illegal hate speech.

This fifth evaluation of the Code of Conduct demonstrates, among others, that on average:

  • 90% of flagged content was assessed by the platforms within 24 hours, while in 2016 this figure was only 40%
  • 71% of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech was removed in 2020, while in 2016, this was only 28%
  • The average content removal rate shows that platforms continue to respect freedom of expression and avoid removing content that may not qualify as illegal hate speech

The results of the fifth evaluation will feed into the contents of the future Digital Services Act Package.

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